Saturday 25 November 2017

WATCH - Where does Sean O'Brien's wonder-try rank in the top 10 scores for the Lions?

Sean O'Brien of the British & Irish Lions goes over to score his side's first try during the First Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Sean O'Brien of the British & Irish Lions goes over to score his side's first try during the First Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Jack de Menezes

Ultimately, Saturday bore disappointment for the British and Irish Lions as they lost the opening Test on their tour of New Zealand 30-15 at Eden Park.

But, as so often with the Lions, there was a bit of magic to set pulses racing in Auckland when Liam Williams started with the ball well inside his own 22 before Sean O’Brien crashed over the whitewash 30 seconds later to score one of the greatest tries for the tourists.

But where does it rank amongst the best tries scored by a Lions side? Jack de Menezes casts his eye over his top 10…

10. Gerald Davies vs New Zealand – Second Test 1971

On what remains the only successful Lions tour of New Zealand, Carwyn Jones’ side were caught complacent in the second Test and were on the end of a five-try hammering. However, they still managed to piece together a blinding try. After receiving the ball deep in his 22, JPR Williams cut inside one All Blacks defender and ran towards halfway before passing to Mike Gibson. With Gerald Davies outside him, Gibson released the wing and he sped away to score a beautiful try.

9. JJ Williams vs South Africa – Second Test 1974

From an almost identical position three years later, Phil Bennett fields a kick and cuts up-field. The fly-half offloads to Willie John McBryde, and the ball then flows through the hands of Mervyn Davies, McBryde again, Gordon Brown and Gareth Edwards. The scrum-half tries to pass to Roger Uckley, who mis-kicks the ball, and JJ Williams is aware enough to hack the ball forward, chase and collect to score a great team try.

8. Phil Bennett vs South Africa – Second Test 1974

The Springboks are turned over inside the lions half and Bennett counters with a switch off flanker Fergus Slattery. Bennett jinks his way through the melee and sprints away from Gerald Bosch, before a brilliant side-step takes him past Ian McCallum to score.

7. Rory Underwood vs New Zealand – Second Test 1993

‘Rugby chaos’ seems to be the phrased coined in New Zealand this year, but 24 years ago it was the Lions who capitalised on playing what was in front of them. Turnover ball produced Dewi Morris with the chance to go wide, and he shifted the ball through the hands of Jeremy Guscott to release Rory Underwood, who outpaced the defence and score in the corner.

6. Matt Dawson vs South Africa – First Test 1997

For individual cunning, look no further than this score against the Springbok. Dawson, hiding low behind the scrum, clearly fancied a burst down the blindside. However, the door quickly shut on him, yet the scrum-half was smart enough to sell one of the biggest dummies seen in rugby that flummoxed three defenders – as well as the cameraman – and gave him an easy run-in at the corner.

5. Jason Robinson vs Australia – First Test 2001

There aren’t many better ways of announcing your arrival with the Lions. Three minutes into the first Test, Richard Hill plays scrum-half and feeds the ball to Jonny Wilkinson on the run. The fly-half passes to fellow Englishman Matt Perry, and although he gives the ball left to Jason Robinson, he has minimal space to work with and Chris Latham standing in his way. Yet Robinson steps past the full-back and gasses his way down the line as the celebrations erupt.

4. Brian O’Driscoll vs Australia – First Test 2001

One of the greats, there’s no doubt about it. The Irish centre exploded onto the Lions scene as he took quick ball from Wilkinson to spot a lazy-running Nathan Gray, cut inside the Australian centre and sprint half the length of the field to score a try that would go down in rugby folklore.

3. Shane Williams vs South Africa – Third Test 2009

It may have been Shane Williams who finished the try, but the credit here goes to the former England centre Riki Flutey. After the pack pile into a ruck to force a turnover, Simon Shaw ships the ball to Mike Phillips, and the quick passing allows Flutey to chip ahead and chase in space. He just reaches the ball before Zane Kirchner does, flicking it inside to Williams who goes over to finish the move.

2. George North vs Australia – First Test 2013

A move of individual brilliance that sees George North collect the ball from a Berrick Barnes clearance in his own half. North runs onto the ball, breaks the first tackle and runs an arcing curve that takes him away from Barnes and keeps him out of reach of scrum-half Will Genia, who gets a finger wag in his direction for his efforts.

1. Sean O’Brien vs New Zealand – First Test 2017

It may have been in a losing cause, but the try that brought the 2017 series alive all started with Anthony Watson collecting an Aaron Cruden kick back over the pack into space. Watson sprints back to make sure it doesn’t go into touch, pats the ball in Liam Williams’ direction and suddenly the Lions full-back knows it’s on. He stands up Kieran Read before running lateral to evade Cruden, and spots a gap inside Sonny Bill Williams that allows him to cut up-field. Williams passes left to Jonathan Davies, who takes the ball up to halfway before releasing Elliot Daly. The wing passes back inside to Davies, and as he’s stopped a metre short, O’Brien is on hand to collect the offload and score.

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